The General Services Administration Has Been Lax in Managing the Columbia Plaza Building Lease

LCD-79-307: Published: Apr 17, 1979. Publicly Released: Apr 17, 1979.

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The General Services Administration (GSA) did not devote enough management attention to the administration of the lease for the Columbia Plaza Building in Washington, D.C. Rather than planning ahead and avoiding problems, GSA waited too long and reacted to problems after they had occurred. Many of these problems and some of the $16.7 million in extra costs could have been avoided.

Construction was slow and the building was sold unfinished at a foreclosure sale. As a result, the lease was modified increasing the cost of the lease to the government. GSA paid rent of $1.58 million while all or part of the Columbia Plaza Building was vacant. In addition, costs of $567,000 incurred to adapt space to meet special needs of the U.S. Customs Service were unnecessary because the agency did not move to the building as planned. The government will incur additional lease costs of about $13.88 million over the 20 year lease because oral agreements were not put in writing and GSA was not in good bargaining position since it had not developed alternative plans for obtaining needed space. GSA did not resolve the issue of whether the lessor or the government is responsible for maintaining the structural integrity of the building. The government has been paying for electricity used by the building's commercial garage since 1974. GSA is paying rent based on 422,118 net usable square feet of space. All available evidence indicates that the building contains less than that.

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